It took him nine NBA seasons but LeBron James earned his first ring with the Miami Heat. Will it be the first ring of many? How many rings will it take to save LeBron James’ legacy?
In order to begin answering that question one must look at other NBA greats who have won titles. We all know that Michael Jordan won six, Magic Johnson five, Kobe Bryant has five, Shaquille O’Neal four, and Larry Bird three. Each of those players are considered NBA royalty and if LeBron James wants to join that illustrious fraternity, then he needs to at least bring in three…right?
Well maybe not so fast. James is in his 10th NBA season and was deeply criticized for stacking the deck with the Miami Heat in hopes of bringing home multiple championships. This is unfair criticism because all of the previously mentioned “NBA royalty” had stacked decks too. Jordan had Pippen, and the right role players, Magic had Jabbar, Worthy and Scott. Bird had McHale, Parrish, Johnson and Ainge, Kobe had Shaq, and Shaq had Kobe and Wade. That was a tremendous amount of NBA talent concentrated on the aforementioned teams which allowed them to be so successful. No one has ever done it alone yet LeBron has caught so much heat for not getting it done and changing teams so that he could. Why?
Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley were NBA superstars of their era and both changed teams in hopes of winning a championship. It worked for Clyde only because Jordan retired for two seasons before coming back and winning three more. Patrick Ewing was an elite player on some solid New York Knicks teams and he never got a ring. Hakeem Olajuwon won two, but again that was largely in part to Jordan’s brief retirement. Even the legendary Jerry West, the NBA logo himself, only managed one championship.
Here’s the point. His legacy has already been salvaged; LeBron James already has the ring he needs. In sports, the disparity between those who have won championships and those who haven’t is so great because any one player can be good, but it takes a special team at the right moment in time to become elite. Maybe this is the year that James and the Heat begin that run of three or four championships that they are capable of winning. Only time tell.
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